‘You can’t expect us to pay over £9,000 for this’: UoB politics students react to module reductions
Final year politics modules have been reduced from 26 to 16
UoB politics students have reacted upset, anxious and distressed to the news that final year modules are being reduced from 26 to 16, the cancellation of a group project and three years of work based solely on five assignments for some students.
Most students had already selected their modules before COVID-19, with many now unable to complete modules they had previously selected. After this announcement students are asking for tuition fee discounts as UoB have already handed out masters at a reduced price.
Hannah* a UoB politics student was distressed about the new module changes. “For the past couple of hours I’ve been crying and trying to wrap my head around these new circumstances,” she told The Birmingham Tab.
UoB responded to these student reactions, telling The Birmingham Tab that the university is “ensuring all students are able to meet their programme learning outcomes such that they can graduate.”
The email sent last Wednesday from Richard North Head of POLSIS, revealed that students have until 26th July to select their new module choices. “Some specialist optional modules are reliant on a single member of staff, and we realised that we could not guarantee the resilience of that provision in these pandemic circumstances,” he said.
“In these cases, we have asked two/three members of staff to work together to combine their optional module material. This has inevitably meant a reduction in the overall number of optional modules. For those students going from second year or a year abroad into the final year, we originally planned to offer twenty-six final year modules and we will now offer sixteen,” he continued.
‘You can’t expect us to pay over £9,000 for this’
Daniel* UoB politics student going into his final year was distressed about the module reductions and virtual teaching. “UoB has cut module choices significantly, confirmed online teaching, with no face to face office hours and reduced library facilities. The university has switched modules to different semesters, I can only now do two modules that I had originally selected,” he told The Birmingham Tab.
“You can’t expect us to pay over £9,000 for this. It’s our money and our lives you are impacting,” he commented.
“If you buy a house and there is no oven, windows, toilet facilities you don’t pay the same price. Universities are the same, we as students are their customers and we should receive a discount for this reduced product,” he continued.
‘Many students may have their entire degree classification formed from just five assessments’
“We are very disappointed to discover that some modules are not being merged or maintained but removed altogether. Additionally, it has become clear that nearly every module has a single 4000 essay as its sole form of assessment,” they told The Birmingham Tab.
“Meaning that a student’s grade for any single module will depend on only one piece of work, and that many students may have their entire degree classification formed from just five assessments (including their dissertation) in their final year,” they commented.
“Our concern is for the overwhelming impact this may have on many students, at a time when social distancing measures have had precipitous impact on both mental health and levels of stress nationally. The approach taken in relation to our course is a worrying diminishment of our university experience, when compared to what we expected when choosing to study here,” they said.
“It is incredibly important therefore that POLSIS adopts a new style of both teaching and marking, and that this crisis is not used to cut back the options available to students in final year going forward,” they continued.
‘My year abroad has been cancelled and now they are cancelling modules that I am interested in’
Lisa,* a UoB politics student was meant to be studying abroad this year, instead she is angry that she will be completing a degree with modules she doesn’t want to take.
“My year abroad was cancelled due to COVID-19 and now I just feel a bit overwhelmed as it’s only today that I’ve found out what modules are on offer and we’ve been provided very little information about them,” she told The Birmingham Tab.
‘For the past couple of hours I’ve been crying and trying to wrap my head around these new circumstances’
Another email was sent to students on Thursday morning confirming the cancellation of The Problems in World Politics Module, which was an alternative to a dissertation.
Many politics students going into their final year are now anxious about the axing of the group project. Hannah* a UoB Politics student was upset at the decision to axe the group project.
“As soon as I saw the email I instantly felt anxious and had a breakdown. I decided to take a leave of absence last year because of personal issues and the stress of doing a diss, hence on my return I was expecting to do the group video project. For the past couple of hours I’ve been crying and trying to wrap my head around these new circumstances,” she told The Birmingham Tab.
“I’m worried about having to do this now. It seems we got the memo late and are yet to be told about tutors, proposals for dissertations etc. I guess all I can do is wait until we hear back and try not to worry and in September go one day at a time,” she continued.
‘This puts us at a disadvantage’
Callum*, UoB Politics and IR student highlighted the impact of removing the group project on students. “This puts those who chose the group project at a significant disadvantage because they would not have done the required prep work that students intending on doing a dissertation would have done,” he told The Birmingham Tab.
‘Staff and student representatives in each academic School are now working together to ensure their curriculum will be resilient’
A UoB spokesperson told The Birmingham Tab: “At this unprecedented time, all universities are looking at ways to ensure that they can provide an outstanding quality of teaching, whilst ensuring that courses have sufficient resilience to cope with possible further COVID-19 related disruption.”
The university also commented “key considerations in planning the next academic year include the impact of rules on social distancing and the use of spaces on campus, testing/tracing/isolating regimes that will mean individual staff and students could be required to be off campus at short notice, the need for some staff and students to remain off campus until a vaccine or treatment is found, and the additional support that all students will require in order to learn successfully in this context.”
They continued, “staff and student representatives in each academic School are now working together to ensure their curriculum will be resilient, making modifications where – for example – a module relies on one member of academic staff and ensuring that students can be offered additional academic support, adapting assessment to ensure it cannot be disrupted, finding new ways to make content available, and ensuring all students are able to meet their programme learning outcomes such that they can graduate with the degree for which they are registered.”
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.